On Elijah Marsh, mornings and lost mittens

A mom ponders the frustrations of parenthood and winter gear, over the heartbreaking backdrop of three-year-old Elijah Marsh's death in the cold.


A small boy died in the cold yesterday and I'm furious with my children.

My Facebook wall is a flurry of ‪#‎RIPElijah‬ and calls to hugs your children tight. But right now, she is lying on the floor in her snow pants and laughing her head off and this is my fifth call for her to get her damn BOOTS ON ALREADY! WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!

Elijah Marsh, a beautiful toddler, stepped out in a t-shirt, a diaper and boots at 4:30 in the morning. It was 17 below.

For 29 minutes I've been yelling, "LUNCHES IN BACKPACKS! COATS ON! BOOTS ON!" On repeat. I have considered making an app that does this yelling for me. I am running around, laundry, lunches, gah—I burned the espresso! Can I not have just this one thing?!

A little boy froze to death.

She is in her snow pants, laying like a starfish while her brother makes her laugh hysterically. I become hideous, make them regret having fun in the moment. I don't want to and yet I want them to know their fun has made us late. Again. She puts her mitts and coat on and tries to open the door but it's as though the doorknob is covered in Vaseline and she can't manoeuvre it to get out.


He stood at the door in his diaper. How did he get out? How?

We leave the house and walk to the streetcar at a fast clip. I'm walking ahead, disgruntled. They are walking slowly, shoulders slumped because they have let the team down. "We're sorry Mom," they cry out to the frozen air but I keep my pace up.

He was found slumped in a corner. No one heard him.

We reach the stop and I turn to the boy, "Where are your mittens?" His pockets come up empty, his hands chapped, his face falls. "I'm so angry at myself." I instantly want to relieve his self-loathing and yet I wonder if he needs to feel this so that the two pairs of mitts that are tossed carelessly around the school while having fun might come home.

Elijah will never come home.


I dig out a spare pair from my bag. We are running low on spares. We hug and like the mother of the three kittens, I apologize for getting upset and love them and hug them and hold them tight. I am reprimanded. We gave up fighting for Lent, say my baptized-but-Athiest children. They are innocent, always.

If we are lucky we get to do this again tomorrow.

RIP, Elijah.

Nadine Silverthorne lives in Toronto with her husband, two hilarious kids and one self-entitled cat. She spends her work-week dreaming up digital content strategy ideas for Rogers Publishing. When not sharing details of her life from her iPhone or laptop, you can find her doing something with food: reading about it, stuffing her face or devising creative solutions to get her kids to stop calling her healthy cooking “yucky.” Follow her on Twitter: @scarbiedoll.

This article was originally published on Feb 21, 2015

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